Saturday, December 10, 2005

Escape from Saigon: How a Vietnam War Orphan Became an American Boy

Warren, Andrea. 2004. ESCAPE FROM SAIGON. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux. ISBN 037432244 [Suggested Grade Levels 5-8]

ESCAPE FROM SAIGON: HOW A VIETNAM WAR ORPHAN BECAME AN AMERICAN BOY tells the story of how a Vietnamese boy, Long, became Matt Steiner. Born in a war-torn country, Long had a difficult childhood. He was a biracial child of a Vietnamese mother and an American father. His father abandoned him and his mother; his mother committed suicide leaving him in the care of his grandmother. Because of the poverty and increasing danger of the war, his grandmother had little choice but to leave Long with one of the orphanages in Saigon. Luckily, Long was chosen for adoption by an American family. Soon he was told that he would soon have a new home and a new name. ESCAPE FROM SAIGON shares his experiences in Southern Vietnam, his time at the orphanage, his recollections of being one of the orphans rescued by Operation Babylift in 1975, and his memories of his American childhood.

Warren tells a heartwarming story of one boy’s experiences which in many ways represent the thousands of war orphans rescued from Southern Vietnam in the mid-seventies. Her text is based on her many interviews with Matt Steiner as well as her interview with others. She also provides a thorough bibliography and index. The black and white photographs complement the text and help the reader understand the context of Matt’s story.

Have readers choose a photograph from ESCAPE FROM SAIGON. Have them write creatively about the photograph. (Poem, diary/journal entry, etc) What emotions does the photograph capture?

Follow up with a reading of THE STORY OF THE SAIGON AIRLIFT by Zachary Kent.

Other books about Vietnam:
Huynh, Quang Nhuong. THE LAND I LOST. ISBN 0812449274
Seah, Audrey. VIETNAM. ISBN 1854355848
Uschan, Michael V. THE FALL OF SAIGON. ISBN 1588105555

By Becky Laney

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